The Washington Post

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake 12.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Sep 13, 2017

This is a tweaked version of the recipe that ran in The Washington Post in 1936 -- perhaps the first in print to join the words "pumpkin" and "spice" in modern harmony. The original called for shortening, a full teaspoon of ground mace, raisins and for the cake to start in a cold oven; the result was a somewhat dense loaf with an overwhelming taste of that spice.

Here, we've used unsalted butter, reduced the mace to 1/4 teaspoon, added chopped crystallized ginger and placed the cake in a preheated oven; the result was moister and taller.

Make Ahead: The cake can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. The cooled cake, wrapped well in plastic wrap, can be frozen for up to 3 months.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12 servings; makes one 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf

  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup canned or cooked pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan (preferably glass) with baking spray (flour and oil).

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer on medium speed for a few minutes, until lightened. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed for a few minutes, until well incorporated (the mixture will be grainy); stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the egg and beat (medium speed) for a few minutes, until well incorporated and a bit fluffy; stop to scrape down the bowl.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, mace and cloves on a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Combine the pumpkin and milk in a large liquid measuring cup, stirring to incorporate.

On medium-low speed, alternately add half flour mixture and then half the pumpkin mixture to the butter mixture, beating until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour and pumpkin mixtures to form a thick batter. (This mixing can be done by hand as well.) Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger so it's evenly distributed.

Transfer the batter to loaf pan, smoothing it evenly. Bake (middle rack) for 55 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake will be lightly browned at the edges and may develop a crack on top.

Transfer (in the pan) to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then dislodge and cool the loaf directly on the rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. Cool completely before storing.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from a Washington Post recipe.

Tested by Kara Elder.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at

Avg. Rating (4)

Rate this recipe

Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 210

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 6g 9%

Saturated Fat: 4g 20%

Cholesterol: 30mg 10%

Sodium: 110mg 5%

Total Carbohydrates: 37g 12%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 19g

Protein: 3g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

Most Read Lifestyle